Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs

By • April 2, 2013 • 83 Comments



Author Notes: For the Super Bowl this year, my husband wanted to make some Korean chicken wings he had seen in a magazine. When I saw the recipe, I wasn't expecting gochujang (Korean chili paste) to be an easy ingredient to find (or pronounce), but it turned out it was incredibly painless to locate at my local big-box store. The wings turned out great, but I now have a pretty sizable tub of gochujang sitting in my fridge.

Not one to let food go to waste, I've made it my mission to use that stuff up. It's actually pretty versatile, and has a nice spicy and smoky flavor. A little bit goes a long way toward giving an otherwise boring dish a little Korean flair. Along the lines of "party food" like chicken wings, I thought this stuff would work in meatballs, too (my recipe is adapted from a recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon). These meatballs are spicy and smoky and delicious.
foxeslovelemons

Food52 Review: WHO: Foxeslovelemons is a food writer from Detroit.
WHAT: Our new favorite cocktail party appetizer, with a kick of spice to keep things interesting.
HOW: Just mix, fry, bake, and brush on a sweet-spicy glaze.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We know they're a classic, but let's face it: your meatballs are probably stuck in a white-bread rut. This is how you break them out of it.
A&M

Makes 20 meatballs

Meatballs

  • 3 green onions, very thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, for pan-frying

Glaze

  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Garnishes: sliced green onion and toasted sesame seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. In large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients except oil. The key to good meatballs is not to over mix them. Just gently combine the ingredients until everything is evenly distributed. Form the mixture into golf-ball sized meatballs.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. In batches (don't crowd the pan!), brown the meatballs on all sides. Transfer meatballs to rimmed baking pan and transfer to oven. Bake 10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160° F.
  3. Meanwhile, in small saucepot, combine all glaze ingredients. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened.
  4. To serve, brush meatballs with glaze and sprinkle with green onion and sesame seeds.

Comments (83) Questions (0)

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Stringio

16 days ago Liz Gorr

Has anyone tried this recipe with turkey? would I have to make any changes since there is so little fat in turkey?

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23 days ago Cathy Stussi

These aare some of the best meatballs. Brought them to a party and won best appetizer! Has just enough bite. Everyone love them. I tripled the receipe and brought home no leftovers...boo hoo!

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23 days ago foxeslovelemons

So glad to hear they were a hit, Cathy! What kind of wine did you end up serving with them? (Sorry, missed your previous comment/question).

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about 1 month ago Cathy Stussi

I'm bringing these to a Appetizer/wine Party. What kind of wine do you think would go with this?

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about 1 month ago za'atar

Delicious! I subbed marmalade for the apricot jam because that's what I had, but other than that I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out wonderfully! I love how the heat from the gochujang is flavorful rather than taste bud singeing.

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about 1 month ago foxeslovelemons

Thanks so much, za'atar. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. That's the same reason I like gochujang, too. A little bit of heat, but not tongue burning spice!

Burnt_offering

3 months ago Burnt Offerings

Made these once again for a neighborhood party, and was inundated for the recipe the day afterwards. Gone in 60 minutes. Double batch. I take them in a crock pot as a warmer when I bring them to parties.

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3 months ago foxeslovelemons

I'm so glad they've been such a big hit for you, Burnt Offerings! Don't you just love crockpots for keeping meatballs warm? I would say half the time I use my crockpot, it's for that purpose ;)

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3 months ago Gotthescoop

I followed your recipe exactly and were loved by all. These little morsels of goodness I gave a D. For DELICIOUS!!! Thanks so much. On the top of my list for all our party's.

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3 months ago foxeslovelemons

So glad they were loved, Gotthescoop!

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3 months ago walkie74

Hmm... instead of apricot preserves, how do you think these would go with orange marmalade? Or even blackberry?

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3 months ago foxeslovelemons

Hi walkie74! I think orange marmalade would definitely work well here. Not sure about blackberry, but why not give it a try? :)

Imag0057

4 months ago Swiss Meringue

I like spicy food, but my gochujang is very authentic and really spicy (no English on the label) so I halved the amount in the meatballs and the sauce and that was perfect and rather spicy, but not too much so. Delicious recipe - would make again!

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4 months ago Mulzee

These were great! I only ended up using about half the glaze but everything was delicious and the flavours blended well together. A great way to use leftover gochujang!

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4 months ago omegatop

I found the meatballs lacking in cohesion. Will add an extra egg for binding purposes, next time.

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5 months ago Amy

I think I got a little heavy handed with the gochujang because these were so spicy they were inedible. I will try again because of the reviews but will start with less gochujang and amp up as needed.

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5 months ago foxeslovelemons

Oh no, Amy! Sounds like your gochujang might have been extra spicy :( So sorry, but hope it's better if you try again!

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5 months ago Bryan

I couldn't believe how easy this was to make! It was fantastic for a quick dinner, I brushed the meatballs with the glaze and put them back in the oven for a few minutes they turned out great. Thanks for sharing.

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5 months ago foxeslovelemons

So glad to hear you liked them, Bryan!

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5 months ago Cooknotchef

Geez Keith, i a) cant imagine an Asian grocery store didnt have this, and b) am pretty glad i dont live where you do if that is true. Harissa is not going to be remotely close, but on the other hand, may end up with an interesting result. But one that is nothing like this recipe.... So- go ahead, give it a whirl. Then, order some gochujang online, and try them again and compare. Good luck!

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5 months ago Annie

I'm with Cooknotchef on this one. Keith check it out again and be sure to go to the Korean section of the Asian market. Gochujang is a Korean staple (I am Korean) and it is always in an Asian grocery if there's a Korean section. Hope you find it soon!!! It is a delicious game changer!!!

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5 months ago Keith

Checked three grocery stores, including one upper-scale market and an Asian market, and none of them had gochujang. Obviously disappointing, and I have no idea what they're supposed to taste like, but I am going to try using Harissa as a substitute, since that's what I have on hand.

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5 months ago foxeslovelemons

Chiming in to echo what others have said. Harissa won't be similar to gochujang, but I'm sure it'll still be tasty :)

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5 months ago natalie

MY friend brought these over to my house for the SB. They were AWESOME!

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5 months ago foxeslovelemons

Yay, glad to hear you enjoyed them, Natalie!

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5 months ago maya

Made these for superbowl tonight and they were GONE. So good. I made a double portion of the glaze and people were dipping their chicken wings and potato chips in it. Definitely something to make again.

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5 months ago foxeslovelemons

This makes me so happy to hear, Maya! It makes total sense, as making Korean-style chicken wings FOR the Super Bowl was the reason I had leftover gochujang, which was the reason I made these meatballs :)

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5 months ago Annie

Adults and kiddos loved these tonight! Thanks for posting this recipe! It is a gem!

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5 months ago foxeslovelemons

So glad to hear that, Annie! Thank you!

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6 months ago jackandlily

I made these tonight with venison. They were a winner. I've never used gochujang before and bought it for this recipe. It will be a staple in our house now, and the meatballs will be on our table often. Thanks!

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6 months ago foxeslovelemons

Wow, so far, they've been made with beef, goat and now venison. I love it! I'm so glad you liked the recipe, jackandlily. Gochujang has become a staple for me as well. It's so versatile and adds a nice boost of smoky/spicy flavor to just about any dish!

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6 months ago lois

Has anyone tried these with ground turkey or chicken? I'm not a beef-eater. Also, Cooking Light (I want to say March 2013 but might be off) has a fabulous recipe for Korean BBQ chicken with spinach and sesame seeds. That's why I always have gochuchang (purchased from my local produce store) on hand.

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6 months ago foxeslovelemons

Hi Lois - I've tried them with both turkey and chicken, actually. It helps if you can find a blend of dark and light meat, if possible. The super lean grinds tend to get a little dry for meatballs.

Burnt_offering

6 months ago Burnt Offerings

I am completely addicted to gochuchang. It has replaced ketchup, and has a permanent spot in my pantry / fridge.

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7 months ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I made these last week (after Burnt Offerings came to the cookie exchange and WOWED us all!) I substituted goat meat, which was gamey and stood up to the Gochuchang wonderfully. They were a little lean - I'm going to mix beef and goat for the next round (January 1 party). Great recipe and the apricot jam combo is inspired!

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7 months ago foxeslovelemons

So glad they worked out for you MrsWheelbarrow. The goat meat sounds like an interesting idea!